Wine With Pizza: 11 Pairing Tips
Anish Patel @ 2022-03-21 10:42:02 -0700
We’ve got good news for you: food and wine pairings aren’t just reserved for a 50-year-old wine and $50 steak.
Wine can be paired with everything from Kit-Kats to roasted duck. In fact, some of the best food pairings are simple crowd-pleasers. Our favorite food to pair with is — drumroll please — pizza!
Here’s why: pizza is the ultimate comfort food, but it’s also very versatile. Different toppings lend themselves to unique wine pairings, and trust us — there’s a wine for every classic pizza style.
There’s one more reason why pizza is the perfect fit for a glass of wine. Pizza is salty. Salt is an ingredient that’s essential for making your food taste delicious and making it a better companion for wine. Salty food makes wine taste fruitier and actually smoothes out the rough tannins. That’s one of the reasons why cheese and wine are a match made in heaven.
So, where to begin? Before you get overwhelmed by how many different possibilities there are when it comes to wine and ‘za, remember that food pairing is fun and playful. This guide is here to teach you how to enjoy doing it.
You can give someone a slice and a glass and feed them for a day, or you can teach them the secrets of pairing, and feed them for a lifetime. Do you see what we’re getting at here? We’re going to show you everything you need to know about how to pair the different flavors and textures of pizza with any wine that graces your kitchen.
Scroll down to find our expert-tested, sommelier-approved pairings that never fail.
Foolproof Pairing Tips for Pizza Night
Once you learn the basic rules of pizza and wine pairing, you’ll feel like an expert every time you decide to order delivery. Follow these golden rules, and you won’t get it wrong.
Tip #1: Get Lost in the Sauce
Let the sauce for your pizza be a guiding light for your wine choice. Why? Because marinara (like most other pizza sauces) is very acidic.
Acidic foods make wine taste less acidic. So, if you drink a wine that’s already low in acidity, the food will make it taste flabby and too dry. On the other hand, pair your pie with a wine with high acidity, and you’ll find that the wine goes from tasting tart to smooth and fruity.
Nailing the acidity can be a little tricky with reds because red wine is almost always lower in acidity than its white counterpart. Don’t let that stop you from going for it, though; red wine is a match made in heaven for pizza if you know what you’re doing.
White wine lovers will be happy to know that you can pair white wines with white pizzas. This is because white pizza tends to have a creamier, cheesy flavor profile than pizza with red sauce. Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Vinho Verdhe, Grüner Veltliner, and Pinot Blanc are all fair game.
Tip #2: What Grows Together Goes Together
This is the famous golden rule of wine and food pairing, and it applies to pizza tenfold. Of course, we all know where pizza comes from—Italy!
Italian wine reigns supreme when it comes to pizza, and, thankfully, here’s no shortage of it. Many red wines from Italy have notes of oregano, thyme, smoke, and meat. Is your mouth watering yet?
However, don’t feel boxed in by Italian wines. There are also wines from France, Spain, and even the U.S. with flavorful, savory notes that play well with pizza.
Rule #3: Tannic Wines Are for Meaty Pizzas
All red wines contain tannins, and just like acidity, some have lower levels while others have higher ones. Tannic wines work well for wines that have meat on them, but they might taste a little too astringent if you’re going vegetarian.
Here’s why: tannins actually intensify the flavors of meat. So, if you’re looking for more flavor, get a wine with high tannins. In return, the fat in the meat lowers the astringent effect that the tannins have on the wine. This balance is a beautiful thing in a highly tannic wine that might be too drying on its own.
Here are some red wines that have the tannins to hold their own with meat-topped pizza:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
Pair any of these wines with a meaty pizza, and you’ll never regret it.
8 Sommelier-Approved Pizza and Wine Pairings
Need a shortcut to the perfect wine and pizza night? You can’t go wrong with these pairings with approval from the pros.
Cheese Pizza and Barbera
Barbera is an indigenous Italian grape that makes a light red wine with high acidity, red cherry flavors, and a peppery finish. This profile adds complexity to the cheesiness while the acidity matches the intensity of the marinara sauce. It never fails!
Pepperoni Pizza and Chianti or Valpolicella Classico
Pepperoni pizza is a classic, and so is Chianti. Made from Sangiovese, it has high acidity and high tannins. This combo makes for a structured wine that will match the red sauce and balance the grease from the pepperoni.
On the other hand, Chianti tastes like wild herbs and will accentuate the flavors of your slice. You might find a note of meat or smoke as well.
Valpolicella Classico is to Barbera what pepperoni is to cheese pizza — all the same goodness and notes, but bigger-bodied, a little gutsier, and a little more flavorful.
Barbecue Chicken Pizza and Rosé
The sweetness of the barbecue sauce in this pizza dances beautifully with the mellow, berry-fruit flavors of rosé. Rosé, made from red grapes, will also provide a good balance to the chicken, which is heavier than a plain cheese pizza but lighter than a sausage or pepperoni.
Hawaiian and Gewurztraminer or Grüner Veltliner
Hawaiian pizza is beloved for its salty and sweet combination of flavors. Gewurztraminer has a sweet honeyed note that will complement the ham and pineapple. For a dry wine, try Grüner Veltliner, an Austrian grape with citrus and white pepper notes.
Margherita Pizza and Pinot Grigio or Picpoul
Pinot Grigio is a neutral white Italian grape with a very high acidity that will cut through the creamy, cheesy surface of your margarita pizza.
Another lesser-known but delicious (not to mention affordable) option is Picpoul, a wine from southern France that literally translates to “lip stinger” for its searing high acidity. Picpoul can be slightly aromatic as well, making it pair nicely with the basil on your Margherita pizza.
Veggie and Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir
Vegetarian pizzas can be a little tricky to pair with wine, but there are a few reliable choices that won’t steer you wrong. It really depends on what kinds of vegetables you like on your pizza.
If you love mushrooms and black olives, go with a Pinot Noir. Light, high in acidity, low in tannins, and developing mushroom notes with age, Pinot Noir is easy to find and even easier to drink.
If you’re a pepper and onion lover, go for a Sauvignon Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc is known for its fruit flavors, closely followed by green notes like green bell pepper and asparagus.
Love all these wines? Get a bottle of each and have a personal wine tasting!
Meat-Lover’s Pizza With Syrah or Tempranillo
Meat-heavy pie? Meet heavy reds. Got it?
Get a big, bold red with decent acidity and tannins. You need something heavy enough to hold its own against your larger-than-life choice of pizza but with high enough acidity that it won’t bog you down.
Syrah is a big, inky wine full of flavors like black cherry, smoke, and braised meat. Tempranillo is also a fantastically full-bodied choice, showing notes of black fruit, smoke, and leather.
Prosciutto and Arugula Flatbread With Fiano or Lambrusco
If you’re a sucker for a salty/sweet combo, you probably love flatbreads with jams, goat cheese, prosciutto, and arugula. Who can blame you?
Many wines will pair with this flavor combo, but our favorites of all time are Fiano and Lambrusco.
Fiano is a light, elegant Italian white wine that can express floral notes, adding a new element to your flatbread experience. Lambrusco is a very lightly-sparkling red wine. It can be dry or slightly sweet, but both styles taste divine alongside a prosciutto flatbread.
Think Outside the Pizza Box
When it comes to food and wine pairing, Bordeaux and steak get all the attention. Now you know that wine and pizza are among the most incredible combos of all time — move over, steak.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. Break the rules, test out our suggestions, and create your own combinations. Are you building your own pizza? Build your own wine pairing too! It’s all about fun and nourishment, after all.
There’s one last benefit of knowing how to pair wine to your pizza like an expert: if you can’t agree on what kind of pizza to order, just open the fridge and see what wine you have open. There — your decision has been made for you!
Want to get it right every time? Stock up on Jajaja, an exotic and chillable Glou Glou Red Wine that tastes divine with every style of pizza.